Inspiring Writers … and Teachers

By Lisa Anderson

One of the greatest pleasures of my work is getting to know my students. All Montessorians are trained to observe children, but it is often what you don’t see on the surface that leads to helping each child discover his/her own gifts, talents and passions. I have always believed that “every child has a gift; they all unwrap their packages at different times”. We seek to help each child reach his/her potential in their own way at their own time.

One way we work toward this goal is by building writers. My day in the elementary classroom begins with a simple journal prompt. Although the stories that follow are never simple. The creativity, originality, and passion that each child brings to his/her writing shows where they are on their journey. Some are just beginning to develop their ideas and are learning to put their thoughts down on paper in a way that makes sense. While others are working to polish their writing by developing interesting introductions that grab the reader’s attention.

Our writing curriculum is as carefully prepared as our physical environment. Children practice brainstorming by talking about their ideas. In a Montessori classroom, we are fortunate to have multi-age groupings that encourage collaborative discussions that spark many curiosities. Learning how to revise their writing is the next step. This includes adding details and clear descriptions to develop a picture in the reader’s mind. Finally, they present their final products to their classmates. Careful modeling by our oldest students inspires our younger members to look inside themselves and write about what sparks their interests.

On the surface, you might see just another animal story, but I see the child who is passionate about penguins that wants to share all that he has learned with his peers. Daily I am being transported into a poem inspired by Robert Frost or a creative story where the writer experimented with non-sense words after reading a Roald Dahl book. Each piece of writing, while rooted in the same essential question, speaks volumes about that particular child in that particular moment. It continues to be my favorite time of the day because I have learned so much about my students through their writing. It is truly a blessing to watch students grow from not knowing what to say to being confident writers that inspire others to create stories. What could be more rewarding!

“All kids need a little help, a little hope, and somebody who believes in them.”

— Magic Johnson